The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


Weekend to-do list
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Craft brewers rolling out India pale lagers

  • Craft brewers rolling out India pale lagers, including Dream Machine IPL, Firestone Pils Pivo, and Victory Prima Pils.

    Bill Hogan / Chicago Tribune

    Craft brewers rolling out India pale lagers, including Dream Machine IPL, Firestone Pils Pivo, and Victory Prima Pils.

In the world of American craft beer, the answer is usually, “Add hops.” The question almost doesn’t matter.
But in this case, hops helped answer a question that had vexed brewers for decades: how to bring lagers into the craft realm? Brewers had long favored ales, partly for the richness and complexity they offer compared with lagers, and partly as a reaction to the conglomerates that helped inspire the craft movement. Lagers were light, fizzy beers made by Budweiser and Miller, or so went the thought.
In recent years, however, lagers have staged a craft comeback, with a hand from hops. That piney, citrus-tinged ingredient, central to craft beer’s most popular style — India pale ales — has been central to giving lagers a needed, and delicious, jolt.
Breweries both large and small have taken stabs at what has become known as India pale lagers, including Victory Brewing (Prima Pils, whose label even features a hop cone), Firestone Walker (Pivo Pils, which also features a hop cone) and Magic Hat, which recently released its first new year-round beer in eight years, an IPL named Dream Machine.
At 50 international bitterness units, Dream Machine boasts as much hop character as many pale ales. Chris Rockwood, Magic Hat’s head brewer, said the brewery considered a handful of styles for its newest addition, but settled on an IPL both because he liked the beer and because the style is a smart investment.
“I don’t think (the rise in IPLs) will be a quick flash,” Rockwood said. “The beer consumer is opening up to lagers, and what they bring to the table.”
And what do they bring? Think of a cleaner, lighter pale ale or IPA, with bright hop lushness and bitterness, but with a lager’s clean finish. Rather than end malty, sweet or cloying as some IPAs (or imperial IPAs) can, IPLs segue from their hop burst to a tidy crispness that makes them perfect for pairing with barbecue, ending the night as a refreshing palate cleanser or simply sipping on a summer day.
With a lower alcohol content, they can also be consumed repeatedly without leaving the drinker in much of a fog. In that way, IPLs are similar to another current craft beer trend: session (or lower-in-alcohol) IPAs.
It could be argued that just as craft beer was a reaction to mass-marketed beer, IPLs are a reaction to the last 20 years of craft beer, as bigger and boozier beers increasingly came into style. Suddenly there’s a place, for lighter, cleaner beers so long as they don’t sacrifice flavor.
It’s little wonder that hops ended up as the key ingredient to a lager trend.
“The industry certainly is not done exploring hops,” Rockwood said. “That hop-forward profile is still desired.”

Northwest IPLs
Breweries making India pale lagers in the Northwest include Pyramid Breweries and Roslyn Brewing.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

HeraldNet highlights

Who are these people?
Who are these people?: Before you vote, get to know the candidates
Waiting for a home
Waiting for a home: Animals up for adoption at NOAH (updated photo gallery)
Herald endorsements
Herald endorsements: Opinions on election races from the Herald Editorial Board
By land or by water
By land or by water: Packrafts open up entire landscapes to explorers
SnoCoSocial